Rome’s Successors 525 CE

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Map Code: Ax00607

With the collapse of the Western Empire in 476 CE, western Europe was soon dominated by three emerging powers, which synthesized Roman institutions with their own cultural heritage to forge a new identity. The Merovingian dynasty of the Franks ruled much of present-day France and Germany, initially under Clovis I (r. 481–511). The Merovingians went on to conquer the kingdom of Burgundy, but were undermined by dynastic disputes amongst various royal heirs and personal feuds. To the south and East the Ostrogoths held sway. It was the Ostrogothic leader, Theoderic the Great, who had killed the vanquisher of the Romans, Odoacer, and it was under his rule (475–526) that the kingdom reached its zenith, preserving many of the institutions and traditions of Classical Rome. From 535 CE the Ostrogoths were under attack from the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which invaded Italy, capturing Ravenna. In southwest Europe the Visigothic kingdom, which had originated in Aquitaine, was extended by conquest, eventually conquering the whole Iberian peninsula. A Catholic realm from 589, much of this territory would ultimately fall to Arab Umayyad invaders from North Africa in 711 CE.

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